When Led Zeppelin Went Full Rockabilly on the ‘Presence’ Album

by Jeremy Spirogis
When Led Zeppelin Went Full Rockabilly on the ‘Presence’ Album

When you concentrate on the musicians who influenced Led Zeppelin, your thoughts may go straight to the blues. Indeed, on the early Zep albums, the band featured a number of supercharged variations of labor by Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf.

But Jimmy Page and his bandmates had a a lot wider musical palette than that. Right from the beginning, you’ll hear Page’s love of folks music in tracks like “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Ramble On.” You additionally hear Motown and jazz influences on the drumming of John Bonham.

On later albums, you’d even hear a Zep salute James Brown (“The Crunge”) and one other to Joni Mitchell (“Going to Calfornia”). But to search out the start of Page’s fascination with the guitar, it’s important to return to the rockabilly period.

When Page heard Elvis Presley’s 1955 recording of “Baby, Let’s Play House,” he knew he wished to be a musician. And whereas he’d showcased Elvis-era manufacturing design on quite a few Zep albums, Page actually explored his rockabilly roots on the Presence (1976) LP. And Robert Plant adopted.

‘Candy Store Rock’ was Led Zeppelin’s bluesy tackle rockabilly

John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page carry out with Led Zeppelin in 1975. | Michael Putland/Getty Images

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If you aren’t a fan of Led Zeppelin’s forays into acoustic music (or John Paul Jones’ keyboard work), then Presence is perhaps the album for you. Working totally on his personal, Page targeted on heavy guitar components on the ’76 launch, beginning with the monumental opener, “Achilles Last Stand.”

The thunder continued (courtesy of each Page and Bonham) on tracks corresponding to “For Your Life” and the sledgehammer blues of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” But on aspect 2 of Presence, listeners get Zep’s spirited tackle rockabilly with “Candy Store Rock.”

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As with “Achilles,” Page kicks issues off on his personal. But on this case he units the tone with a slashing, uptempo riff that recollects James Burton, the Elvis guitarist Page revered as a teen. And after Plant enters along with his finest ’50s “We-ll…” Zep will get off to the races, with Jones backing Page with a rocking bass line. (Plant stated he went for Elvis imitator Ral Donner in his vocals.)

During the verses, the highlight goes on Plant and Bonham, the latter of whom is in prime type on each snare and cymbals. (For those that say Bonham was all bravado and no swing, see right here.) Then Page follows with a twanging solo that salutes rock’s guitar pioneers.

Page and Zep cranked out ‘Candy Store Rock’ on the fly

“Led Zeppelin” poses for a portrait in 1970. | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When you hear in regards to the making of Presence, you perceive the kind of strain Page and Zeppelin labored beneath. (The band made the file throughout its self-imposed tax-exile 12 months.) Things acquired off to a horrible begin when Plant and his household acquired in a severe automobile wreck whereas on vacation.

Since Plant may solely spend a sure variety of days in England, that meant he needed to depart his wounded household and recuperate abroad (on this case, Malibu). To complicate issues, Page booked studio time in Munich however solely acquired lower than three weeks. (The Rolling Stones had been following Zep in the identical studio.)

Why did the largest band on the planet rush themselves in such a manner? “I did not want the record to drag on,” Page advised Guitar World in 1993. “I felt that if it had dragged on, a negative, destructive element might have entered the picture.” (This ominous assertion hints at Zep’s troubles on the time.)

So, working 18-20 hour days, Page rammed by all the album in a little bit over two weeks. (He stated he did all of the guitar solos/overdubs in a single night time.) And “Candy Store Rock” was amongst Zep’s greatest rush-jobs tracks on Presence. In brief, they only don’t make them like Led Zeppelin anymore.

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